TW talks to Stargate and Arrow star David Nkyl

By Owen Quinn author of the Time Warriors and Zombie Blues

How did you first become interested in acting?

I loved the idea of being a different person every day I go to work.

Where did you train? 

University of BC, in Los Angeles privately and in Vancouver privately.

Is being bilingual an advantage to you in your career?

It is in my life, so it is in my career. Language is a great way to provide perspective.

What defines acting for you?

Courage, will, and smart choices.

What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years in your craft? 

That truth is multi-faceted and infinitely expandable. You corner of it is only a piece, so don’t be too precious with it.

You have an impressive theatre background.What is it about acting in front of a live audience that appeals to you?

The instant feedback.

Is theatre the best training ground an actor can have? 

I think it is. You learn the basics in a much more robust setting. It forces you to have a stronger voice and a stronger voice means a stronger position.

Can you tell us how and why you cofounded the Misery Loves Company Theatre?

I met some terrific people when I was in Prague who had various levels of experience in theatre. We put together an english language theatre to keep us busy, but mainly to do work we would not normally get a chance to do onstage back in North America.

How do you go about choosing which productions you stage?

It’s a collaborative process. We look for entertainment value and also logistics. Casting is crucial too.

Do you find that theatre can often be neglected in a day and age that relies so much on digital technology where everything is given at the touch of a button? 

Yes, and that will soon change – it already is I believe. The more our machines isolate us, the more we need a forum for common truths. It’s entirely different watching a comedy in a room full of strangers than it is watching it alone on a flickering screen. We are only now beginning to come around to the idea that we need each other physically – even if it is just sitting there – and not just virtually.

How did you break into television?

In Prague the production that came needed english speaking actors who were local and didn’t need hotels and flights to be there. We were cheap and cheerful.

How does the television industry in Vancouver differ to that of say Los Angeles? 

Volume only – there’s more in LA. Vancouver is at the top of the game though – so professionally it’s the same.

How did you get the role of Doctor Zelenka? He was meant to be a one off character wasn’t he? 

Yeah. Just a day player that they decided to keep. 

What was the brief for the character? Was your Czech background an advantage for the multinational element?

Yeah it was. They wanted an eastern european physicist. He was originally going to be Russian. They made the character Czech when they learned of my background.

He and Rodney built up a great onscreen relationship. Was that in the original script or did you and David build on that as you went along? 

David and I put that together, the writers then picked up on it and rolled with it.

The first season was spectacular television with many great stories. What was the stand out one for you?

Honestly, It’s been so long ago and such a while that I don’t remember what episode goes where. Especially season one. I remember the one about the storm….?

How much of a collaboration was it between the cast and the writers to help the characters expand? 

Not much, from my end. There was a divide there – they wrote and we acted. They knew what they wanted and it was my job to do it.

Zelenka was instrumental in several stories including getting Atlantis back to Earth in minutes in Enemy of the Gate. You also had the chance to appear on SG1 on the Pegasus Project.What do you think Zelenka would be doing now?

Sitting in a swim up bar in the Caribbean. It was a lot of work saving that place week in week out. 

Everyone was outraged when the series ended, somewhat prematurely in a lot of eyes including my own. Were you surprized when they cancelled it and what was the reasons?

Shocked. We thought we had a winner.

How has being Zelenka changed your life and benefitted you as an actor?

Tremendously. The recognition is nice – but what I really enjoy about it is the travel and the chance to meet fans the world over. That has been the biggest change since pre-SGA days.

You’ve appeared in crime dramas and period pieces like the Scarlet Pimpernel and Human Target. Given you theater background is the period stuff something you love and would like to do more?

Sure. I don’t choose projects based on genre though. I choose them based on role, availability, and general project enthusiasm. Genre is a category for the audience, not for thew actor.

What do you think is the universal appeal of the sci fi genre?

It’s fairy tales for adults. It’s a reflection of us and how we good (or bad) we can be. It can be moralistic tales, like Aesop’s fables, or just escapism, like comic book movies. Sci Fi is the world of ‘what if’ and there is no greater attraction to us than the possibility of what might be.

How has your perception of fans changed having attended several conventions? Did you know what to expect? 

Sort of. The conventions themselves are well and good, but it is the fans the constantly surprise me – not just how much they know, but also how creative they are. It’s a myth that they’re whackos. They’re just regular people being enthusiastic. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

What has been your biggest lesson since starting acting as a career?

That it’s a long run and not a quick sprint.

What advice would you give to any budding actor thinking of doing this as a career?

Be patient and be curious. And never stop working.

What are you currently working on?

Arrow, season II and a little sci-fi pic called Air.

Where can fans find out more about you and your career? – with the caveat that I don’t think I’ve updated my website in about 5 years – and IMDB I guess.


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